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Mississippi Pot Roast

16 Jan

This recipe is crazy popular on the internet.  I have seen variations of it all over the web, and nearly everyone gives it 5 stars, so while i thought the combinations of flavors were unique, and I wasn’t sure how it would meld together, I decided to give it a try anyway.  I can’t take credit for the idea of mixing these ingredients together. However, i will take credit for putting a slight spin on it, in that i’m going to make it in the Instant Pot I recently purchased, I’m using pepper rings instead of whole peppercinis (i think they’ll be easier to eat) and I’m going to use light butter and bulk up the recipe with some veggies to make it a little more calorie friendly.  I will give slow cooker (crock pot) instructions below as well, since I know many of you may not have a pressure cooker available.

Editors Note: On second thought…Make the Gravy. This is literally the best brown gravy i’ve ever made in my life.  It is very rich and flavorful!

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 lb roast (I used lean, top round)
  • 1 envelope of Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 envelope of dry au jus mix
  • half a 16 oz jar of banana pepper rings + 1/2 cup of the juice
  • 2 TBSP oil of your choice
  • 4 TBSP of light butter (50 cal per tbsp)
  • 1 can of beef broth (only if you’re using an Instant Pot. not needed for crock pot)
  • 1 onion, quartered, Baby Carrots and 12 little potatoes (optional, not included in calorie count below. please track calories for veggies separately based on what veggies you use)

Editors Note: Note, I am using whole small potatoes with the skin on.  There is not much liquid starting out in this recipe if you’re using the crock pot, so i’d be afraid to use cut up potatoes with the inside exposed, as they might oxidize and turn black during cooking. If using the Instant pot, cut up potatoes or even turnips or radishes would work.

Instructions:

If using a Crock pot:

  1. Use paper towels to dry the meat well.  Salt and pepper meat to taste.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet and brown the meat on all sides to seal in the flavor once it begins to cook.
  3. If you’re using the veggies, toss them into the bottom of the crockpot here.
  4. Place meat in crockpot, and pour envelops of au jus and ranch directly on top of the meat.  Rub spices into the top and sides of the meat the best you can. Place peppers (but not juice yet) on top of the meat along with the butter.
  5. Pour the pepper juice around the sides of the meat.
  6. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
  7. Shred or slice the beef.  Remove the veggies for serving. Serve with or without peppers.  You can use corn starch to thicken the remaining juices into a gravy if you like (calories for corn starch not included here).  If this is something you want to do, remove your meat and veggies, pour the juice from the crockpot into a small pan. Disolve the cornstarch into about 1/2 cup of water. Pour cornstarch slurry into your pan drippings and whisk until thickened.

If using the Instant Pot (IP) electric pressure cooker

  1. Use paper towels to dry the meat well.  Salt and pepper meat to taste.
  2. Turn your IP on saute and wait for it to become hot. Heat oil in the IP and brown the meat on all sides to seal in the flavor once it begins to cook.
  3. Remove meat from IP and pour in pepper juice and broth. Deglaze the pan by scraping off all the bits of meat that stuck to it during browning.
  4. Place meat inside the IP, and pour envelops of au jus and ranch directly on top of the meat.  Rub spices into meat the best you can. Place peppers on top of the meat along with the butter. Don’t put your veggies in at this point or they will turn to mush.Leave them out. We will get to those later 🙂
  5. Using the Manual setting on your IP, set the timer to 60 minutes at high pressure.  Make sure your steam vent is in the closed position.
  6. Once your 60 minutes is up, allow the IP to depressurize naturally (NPR) for 10 minutes before Quick releasing (QR) the remaining pressure.
  7. At this time, open the IP up and check your meat for doneness.  If the meat is tender, and at 180 degrees in center, you’re good to go.  If not you might try bringing it back to pressure in 10 min intervals using QR until it reaches the texture you like.
  8. Once meat is a good texture, add veggies into the pot around the meat.
  9. Use the manual setting again, with the pressure valve closed, and set the IP for 6 minutes.
  10. Cook for 6 min and then Quick Release.
  11. Cut or shred your meat, and remove veggies.  Serve with or without the peppers. You can mix about 2-3 tbsp of cornstarch with some water, and add into the broth if you wish to make gravy.  Just use the saute feature on the IP and wisk the mixture together until it thickens.  Note that corn starch* and veggies are not counted in the calories shown below.

Makes 6 Servings.  Calories reflect meat only. Calculate Veggies separately based on what veggies you choose to use.

6 Servings= 343 Calories per serving

*If you use 3 TBS of cornstarch to thicken the gravy, and still have 6 servings, calories are slightly increased to 358.

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Low Calorie Homemade Pizza

10 Jan

 

So, this recipe is officially for pizza, but some folks don’t wan to go through the trouble of making sauce or they already have store bought sauce on hand.  Also, everyone likes different things on their pizza.  So I’m going to give you 2 things here.  I’ll give you the recipe for just crust, along with calorie count, and then I’ll give you my recipe for a cheese pizza.  That way if you make your own pizza, all you have to add are the calories associated with whatever toppings you choose to use.  This turned out much better than I expected.  In fact, the family loved it and it’ll definitely be making a return visit to my dinner table.

Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 single serve containers of plain greek low fat yogurt
  • 3 cups of self rising flower
  • 2 tablespoons of water

That’s it.  Yeah, I know. This sounds crazy, but it’s good I promise. Mix it together, knead with your hands for about 5 minutes, and voila!  Spray a large baking pan with sides down with nonstick spray.  Roll your dough out evenly to the edges of the pan, pressing any extra little dough up against the sides.  Use a fork to poke some holes throughout the crust and top your pizza with everything you want on it before baking. (13 min at 475).  Continue on if you wish to use my sauce recipe.

Pizza Sauce:

  • 2 6 oz cans of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1/4 tablespoon of granulated garlic (garlic powder)
  • 1/2 tsp of oregano
  • 1/4 tsp of basil
  • just a dash of onion powder if you like it.

Instructions:

Mix ingredients together in a bowl and spread evenly over crust.

To make Cheese pizza:  add 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese and bake at 475 for 13 minutes.

Makes 5 average servings  or 4 pretty large servings. Cut into 15 slices (5 smaller servings, 3 slices each) or 8 large slices (4 servings, 2 slices each)

 

4 servings: Crust only= 345 calories             4 servings: Cheese Pizza = 580 Calories

5 servings: Crust only = 275 calories           5 servings: Cheese Pizza= 464 Calories

 

I used turkey pepperoni, turkey sausage, and fresh mushrooms on my pizza pictured here. Well.. parts of it. The lower bottom right quarter is just cheese for my picky kid:

pizza-2             pizza-1

 

 

 

Italian Meatball Sliders

26 Oct

This is a recipe that I originally tried through a home delivery service.  I ordered it, made it, liked it, but I saw a lot of opportunity to alter it and make it more calorie friendly, so that’s exactly what I did.  This is one we’ve eaten about 3 time in my house now, and the kids love the little surprise of melted cheese in the middle.  The husband loves that he can have a “meatball sub” basically for much lower calorie count. Either way, this one is a winner, and I hope you guys enjoy it too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of lean beef (i used 92%)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup of bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese (shreds, not powder)
  • 2 low calorie mozzarella string cheese sticks*
  • 1 cup of prepared pizza sauce
  • 8 mini slider buns*

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450. Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with foil.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together: Ground beef, garlic powder, egg, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix thoroughly using a spoon or clean, bare hands.
  3. Place the mozzarella sticks on a cutting board and cut them each into 4 even segments.
  4. Form 8 meatballs from the ground beef mixture you’ve made and spread them evenly over the foil lined baking sheet.
  5. Use your thumb to press a deep well in the center of each meatball, large enough to insert one of the pieces of mozzarella.
  6. Shape the top of the meatball to cover the mozzarella, sealing the cheese in tightly so it reduces the amount of overflow that occurs during cooking/melting.
  7. Bake the meatballs for 25-30 minutes in the oven.
  8. Once meatballs are done, remove meatballs and foil from the pan and place the buns on the baking sheet, tops and bottoms separated from one another so the center of the bun is facing up.
  9. Place the buns into the oven and broil breifly until they are lightly browned.  Don’t take your eye off of them… it doesnt take long to go from lightly brown to “somebody call the fire department!”
  10. In a small skillet, heat the pizza sauce to warm, and place meatballs, cheese side up into the sauce.  Use tongs to move meatballs around just enough to pick up some sauce on the outsides.
  11. Remove buns from oven, and place 1 meatball on each bottom bun.  Spoon a little sauce over the top.  Sprinkle with extra parm if you’ve got it, and place the top bun over the meatball.  Enjoy.

*Editors note:  I used premade slider buns that were 80 calories each. My cheese sticks were 50 calories each.  You can freeze the cheese sticks ahead of time if you feel yours melted too much during cooking.

Serving size= 2 Sliders   446 calories

Serving 1 slider= 223 calories

**NOTE: I am no longer following weight watchers and am no longer comfortable calculating weight watchers points values with any accuracy.  Please feel free to use your ww recipe builder to calculate points if necessary.

meatball

 

Beef Eggroll Tacos

20 Mar

I love the idea of fusion cuisine:  Taking 2 cultures and smooshing them together to create something delicious.  I also, incidentally, love food trucks.  My favorite food truck is a little place called “traveling kitchen” in Louisville, Ky.  They serve korean street tacos.  A beautiful mix up of korean and mexican cultures, and they are delicious.  That’s where I drew inspiration for this one.  That, and a recipe for a low carb dish that people call “crack slaw”… These are yummy.  You can adjust the chili paste if you like things spicy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of lean ground beef
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 TBSP sesame oil
  • 2 TBSP of minced garlic
  • 16 oz bag of coleslaw mix (cabbage, carrots, etc from the produce aisle)
  • 3 TBSP Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp asian chili paste
  • 1 packet of splenda no-calorie sweetener
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 12 small (6 in) flour tortillas (mine were 110 calories each)
  • Pickled Onions
  • Sriracha to taste

Instructions:

1. Season ground beef with salt and pepper, and brown in a large skillet. Remove beef from the skillet and set aside.

2. Heat sesame oil in the same pan you used to cook the beef.  Add the garlic and slaw mix, and cook on low-medium heat, stirring frequently.  Cook until slaw mix is cooked through and cabbage becomes almost transparent.

3. Add beef back to the skillet, along with:  Soy sauce, chili paste, splenda, ginger, and vinegar.

4. Cook all together, stirring regularly, for about 3-5 minutes.  Taste before serving, and salt/pepper according to taste.

Garnish with pickled onion and sriracha if desired.  (Sriracha sparingly–it’s super spicy)

*picture below does not show pickled onions or sriracha- not reflected in calorie count (though the calories are minimal)

Makes 12 generously stuffed tacos (2 per serving)

1 serving= 390 Calories

  

 

 

 

Tomato Basil Soup

2 Feb

I have long had an aversion to canned tomato soup.  I’ve hated it since I was a kid, and for a long time I thought i didn’t like Tomato Soup at all.  Then, in college, I discovered tomato basil soup at a local restaurant, and from that point on, I was in love.  I’ve wanted to try this at home for years, but never got around to it.  I try not to eat it too often out anymore, because the calorie count can vary dramatically depending on the use of butter and heavy cream.  So, it seemed like I just needed to skinny up some tomato soup and make it at home.  Last weekend, I finally got around to it and the results are delicious.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 Red onion, diced
  • 32 oz (one big box) of Vegetable Stock
  • 3 TBSP of minced garlic, or 3 cloves of fresh garlic, pressed
  • 1 (28 oz) Can of Crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup- 1 cup of half and half
  • About 10 leaves of fresh basil, cut into little pieces
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place red onions in a 4 qt pot with about 1 cup of vegetable stock.  Bring to a Simmer and simmer onions for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic to the onions and continue to simmer about 3 additional minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper into the mixture, and bring to a boil.  Once it begins to boil, reduce heat back to a simmer.
  4. Continue to simmer soup for about 15 additional minutes, stirring periodically.
  5. If you have a great immersion blender, you’ll use it at this point to puree the soup into a smooth blend.  If you do not have a great immersion blender, you can use your regular blender, but listen up here..this is important.  Do not pour the entire pot of soup into the blender at once.  If you do, the boiling soup is going to explode out of the top of the blender and all over you when you hit the button, trust me on this one.  Divide the soup into 2-3 batches, and after blending each one, return them all back to the pot. Your blender shouldn’t be more than 1/2 full with each batch.
  6. Once all your stuff is blended well and back in the pot, stir in your half and half, and your basil and salt and pepper to taste.   Continue to simmer the soup about 10-15 minutes or until it reaches the consistency you enjoy.

My batch used 3/4 cup of half and half, and i think it turned out nicely.  If you use 1 cup, add about 10 calories per serving.

 

6 (1 Cup) Servings= 105 Calories per cup

Approximately 2 weight watchers points plus per cup

White Lasagna

17 Jan

This is a dish that can very easily be made vegetarian, by using veggie broth and omitting Chicken, so I’m listing it as “vegetarian friendly” and including the calorie count for both versions. This is a “weekend” recipe, meaning, it takes some time and love to put together. It’s not a “quick and easy” but it is yummy, and I hope you enjoy.

NOTE: I made mine ahead, put it all together and let it sit in the fridge assembled for about 1 1/2 hrs before baking. This is an easy “make ahead” meal. It’s also a good “make an extra one to freeze for later” meal. Just use an aluminum pan, and wrap the extra one tightly in saran wrap, then foil. Freeze, and when ready to cook set it out to thaw- then remove all the foil and plastic, cover back with foil, and bake as directed.

OK.  Here we go.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz cooked chicken, diced or shredded (optional)
  • 8 oz reduced low fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese (divided)
  • 1 tsp italian herbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 a tsp each)
  • 3 cups of baby spinach leaves, fresh
  • 9 No-boil Oven ready bake lasagna noodles (the long wavy ones)
  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms, rough chopped into quarters
  • 10 Cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese

Sauce:

  • 3 TBSP light butter or margarine (50 cal per tbsp)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/4 cup finely diced bell pepper (any color)
  • 2 TBSP minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp flour (i like seasoned flour. here’s the one I use)
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 of paremsan cheese from list above

Instructions: 

  1. Wash, dry, and cut all veggies as described above, and set each aside for now.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together: Ricotta, half of your paremsan cheese, egg whites, italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
  3. Stir your spinach leaves into the ricotta, mix thoroughly, and set the mixture aside for now.
  4. Next, you’re going to make your sauce.  I used a 1 qt sauce pan and a wire whisk.  First thing, melt the butter in the suace pan.
  5. Add onions and peppers, and stir constantly for about 3 minutes until onions are clear.
  6. Mix in your garlic and continue cooking and stirring about 30 seconds longer.
  7. Add flour into mixture, and stir until flour is well incorporated.
  8. Pour milk into mixture and stir until flour mixture is incorporated into milk and there are no lumps.  Add chicken broth and continue to stir and cook until mixture begins to thicken (about 3-5 min).
  9. While your sauce is cooking, fill a 9×13 pan about 1/2 way with hot water and place your lasagna noodles into the pan to sit for 5-8 min (no longer than that).
  10. Once your sauce is thickened a bit, remove from heat and stir in nutmeg a remaining parmesan cheese.

Assemble your lasagna:

  1. Using a 9×9 pan, sprayed with nonstick spray, Spoon about 1/4 cup of the sauce into the bottom of the pan and swirl it around until it covers the bottom.
  2. Trim all of your lasagna noodles to fit inside the pan.  You’ll have to cut about 3 inches off the end of each one. I used kitchen scissors.  Set noodles aside on a paper towel to dry.
  3. Layer the following items on top of the sauce:  3 noodles, side by side, slightly overlapping one another: Spread 1/2 of spinach mixture on top of noodles evenly.  Sprinkle 1/2 of your mushrooms and onions over that.  Next, spread 1/2 of chicken evenly over mixture. Top with about 1/2 cup of sauce poured evenly over top.
  4. Repeat that layer one more time, reserving about 1/4 cup of sauce for the top of the lasagna.
  5. Layer your last 3 noodles over your top layer, creating the top of the lasagna.  Spread remaining sauce over top, and then add mozzarella evenly over the top of the sauce.
  6. Bake, covered in foil for 40 min on 375 degrees.  Remove foil and bake another 12 minutes.

Let lasagna sit 5-10 min before cutting to serve (don’t skip this step or it will be watery)

Makes 6 servings= 300 calories per serving (as written)

255 calories without chicken


  

Chinese Chopped Chicken Salad

27 Oct

I’ve fallen in love with the Chinese Chicken Salad at California Pizza Kitchen, so I set out to find a recipe that would allow me to come close to this delicious dish at home, and I have to say this is pretty darn good.  It lacks the fried wontons that I love on the CPK version, but that just lends it to be even lower in calories, and to be honest, it is delicious without them, so I hardly even missed them.  I encourage you to try this one out.  I made it “Quick and Easy” By chopping all the veggies and combining in a large ziploc bag the day before.  I also went ahead and baked 2 chicken breasts and set them aside.  The day I had them for lunch, I just mixed the dressing, chopped the chicken, threw in the sesame seeds and almonds and mixed it all up with the lettuce mix.  This was yummy.

Editors Note: The dressing is a little on the sweet side, which i don’t mind.  If you like things a little less sweet, go with 2 TBSP Splenda brown sugar and subtract 15 Cal per serving.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 head of Napa Cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded (Julienne) carrots
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
  • 10 oz boneless skinless chicken breast (seasoned with salth and pepper and baked or grilled)
  • 2 TBSP Roasted Sesame Seeds
  • 1/2 cup Slivered Almonds

Dressing:

  • 1 1/2 TBSP Sesame Oil
  • 3 TBSP peanut butter
  • 4 1/2 TBSP Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 TSP Asian Chili Sauce
  • 4 1/2 TBSP Rice Vinegar
  • 3 TBSP Splenda brown sugar mix
  • 1 1/2 TSP grated ginger

Directions:

  1. Prep all your veggies. Chop your lettuce, cabbage, scallions, carrots, and cilantro, and mix together.  If you do this ahead of time, store in a big sealed ziplock bag in the fridge.
  2. Salt and pepper your chicken, and either grill or bake it ahead of time.  I don’t like hot chicken on a cold salad, so i give mine plenty of time to cool.
  3. Assemble your salad by mixing the lettuce mix with your chicken and adding sesame seeds and almonds.
  4. Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl with a wisk until you have a smooth mixture.
  5. Add Dressing to salad and mix everything together until dressing is evenly coating other ingredients.

Note: To serve as a side, omit chicken and serve as 8 servings. 155 cal per serving

Makes 4 very generous portions

1 Serving= 400 Calories

Appx 8 weight watchers points plus per serving

  
Dressing Ingredients:

Finished Dressing

Final Product: